LGBT community raises thousands for Northern Ireland’s Rainbow Project after their office was ransacked

Northern Ireland’s Rainbow Project has received thousands of pounds in donations after their office was burgled weeks before Pride.

The Rainbow Project, the largest LGBT organisation in Northern Ireland, has played a crucial role in advocating for equal rights in the region – which is the only part of the UK without marriage equality.

The non-profit’s Belfast office was broken into overnight on Tuesday (July 17), with intruders smashing through a glass panel and stealing four laptops that were used by Rainbow Project staff.

The office was ransacked and laptops stolen (Rainbow Project)

The Rainbow Project shared pictures after the break-in showing the office in disarray with broken glass, files and papers scattered across the floor.

However, the LGBT community has rallied round the charity in the wake of the burglary,

A Facebook call for donations has so far received nearly £6,000 to replace the stolen equipment and repair the office.

The charity had written: “Morning folks. We have arrived at work this morning to find our offices broken into.

“It is a week and a half until Belfast Pride week and this is not what we need. Our laptops have been stolen, until CSI have been, we are unable to ascertain what else is missing meaning that our very important work will be hindered.

“But we rise up, we continue. Now, we begin the journey to fix and replace everything that was broken.

“Please be assured all our data is kept on a secured server and our laptops are all encrypted. Access to our server has been cut off from the laptops that were stolen.”

The office was ransacked and laptops stolen (Rainbow Project)

Speaking to the Irish News, the Rainbow Project’s Policy and Advocacy Manager Gavin Boyd thanked people for the “incredible” response.

He said: “People have been really generous. It’s phenomenal. It has been really amazing. People have really rallied behind us.”

Boyd said that staff had been “in tears” over the incident, adding that the burglary could not have come at a worse time..

He said: “Belfast Pride is our busiest time of year ­ people have been working for months to get their events organised.

“It knocks a bit of your confidence, but staff have really been working hard getting back to it.”

The office was ransacked and laptops stolen (Rainbow Project)

Speaking at a PinkNews event in Belfast last month, Rainbow Project director John O’Doherty reiterated calls for the UK Parliament to legislate for equal marriage in Northern Ireland following the collapse of devolved power-sharing.

He noted that private members’ bills on the issue in Westminster are identical to legislation drawn up for the Assembly prior to its suspension.

O’Doherty added: “That is Northern Ireland-written legislation being brought to Westminster and asking for change. Even the strongest Republicans that we have in Northern Ireland are calling for Westminster to legislate on marriage equality.

“I’m not just here to change the law, I’m here to change society and change the world, and if we continue constantly having to fight a campaign [on equal marriage], we can’t have the wider conversation that needs to be had around LGBT equality issues – we need to be talking about gender recognition reform, our education system’s failure to meet the needs of LGBT people, and our under-resourced mental health services for LGBT people.

“We’ll will continue to fight this campaign that we have won but are unable to get across the line. Whether you are a UK citizen or an Irish citizen, you deserve equal rights here in Northern Ireland.”